Buddha bowls, as they are often called on social media, are absolutely everywhere. Typically presented in a Zen-like fashion, these brightly colored, artfully arranged bowls consist of a cornucopia of vegetables and/or proteins that are eye-catching at first glance. If you ask me, Buddha bowls are works of art that can actually make you feel healthier just glancing at images of them.
The best part about Buddha bowls generally is that there are no hard-and-fast rules for what actually constitutes how to make one. Also referred to as “grain bowls”, “macro bowls”, “hippie bowls” and “power bowls”, the main rule of thumb in making one is, just go with what you like to eat or even better, what you have on hand.
According to Dan Zigmond, a Zen priest and author of the book “Buddha’s Diet”, the name “Buddha bowl” may actually have a literal origin. Zigmond states, “Buddha woke up before dawn every morning and carried his bowl through the roads or paths wherever he was staying. Local people would place food in his bowl as a donation, and at the end he would eat whatever he had been given.”
I provide a recipe below for a favorite easy Buddha bowl I love, but basic steps for making your own are as follows; (1) pick your grain or leafy green depending on your preference, (2) add your favorite toppings, slicing and dicing them to your heart’s content, (3) add a protein, lean meats, beans or tofu, and (4) finish your bowl with a drizzling (big or small) of your favorite dressing on top. Considered an easy, one-bowl meal for those on the run or simply looking to mix things up a bit in the kitchen without much effort at all. This Buddha bowl can be served warm or at room temperature, whatever you prefer.
Tofu Buddha Bowl With Miso Dressing
- For the Tofu Bowl:
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
- 5 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 small bunches tok (or bok) choy
- 3 (7-ounce) packages teriyaki flavored tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups white cabbage, shredded
- 8 ounces pippin mushrooms, trimmed
- 1/2 Daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
- 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, lightly toasted, for garnish (optional)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- For the Miso Dressing:
- 4 tablespoons white shiro miso paste
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons mirin
- 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons garlic chili oil
- Step 1 For the Bowl: Fill a medium stockpot half full with water and place over high heat. When boiling, add the tok choy and blanch for about 1 minute until a vibrant green. Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
- Step 2 Place a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and when hot but not smoking, add the tofu, season with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally until golden brown all over, about 6-7 minutes. Note: if you do not have a very large pan, work in batches when cooking the tofu to prevent overcrowding. Place on a plate and set aside.
- Step 3 Wipe out the skillet and add two additional teaspoons of olive oil and place back over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cabbage, season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Place the cabbage on the plate with the tofu and place the pan back on the stove.
- Step 4 Add the last teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Once hot, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, without disturbing for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Step 5 For the Miso Dressing: In a small mixing bowl add the miso, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic chili oil. Whisk until blended and set aside.
- Step 6 To assemble: Place some brown rice in the desired serving bowls. Top with generous scoops of tok chow, tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, Daikon radish, radishes and carrots. Drizzle the miso dressing over the filled bowls. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.